Coyote Heritage ~ December 2009

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Bill Gilliland
  • 190th ARW Historian
Capt. Gene Crackle briefs aircrew members prior to their missions, possibly at summer camp at Alpena, Mich., in 1959. Gene Crackle was one of the original members of the 117th, and he and Capt. Bill Fry were the first pilots to sign up for the new unit to be formed in Hutchison in 1957.

Crackle had flown F-86 jet fighters during the Korean War. By the time he joined the unit, he was no longer current in fighters. However, he and Fry checked each other out in the F-80's that the 117th would fly for just over a year before the conversion to B-57s.

Things were surely different in those days. There were no flight suits, helmets, or other flying gear, or even aircraft available to the new unit, so they borrowed gear, jets, and everything else from the 127th in Wichita, now the 184th Intelligence Wing, and performed their own training in the F-80 for the new unit.

Captain Crackle served as the operations officer for the unit until his departure for the National Guard Bureau in Washington D.C. He greatly influenced the early and ongoing success of the 117th.